About 150 Jews, international human rights activists, and local Arabs hit the streets in east Jerusalem's Silwan neighborhood Saturday to protest demolition orders for homes in the area.
The protesters rallied under the slogan: "Jews and Arabs against house demolitions."
One of the stops in the march was the ruins of a home razed two weeks ago. "Under these ruins, you can still find the furniture of a whole family, with five daughters, that has no other home," one protester declared. "This is an act by (Jerusalem Mayor) Barkat, who in his first day on the job already decided to raze homes, and is going to continue razing homes in the area."
One of the protest organizers, Abdul Halik Shaludi, told Ynet that back in 2005 city hall issued demolition orders for 88 homes.
"We set up a protest tent back then that lasted almost five months, until the previous mayor agreed to sit with us and gave us the opportunity to create a master plan, at our expense," he said. "We did everything, paid $77,000 from our own pocket, yet 40 days ago we were summoned by the Interior Ministry and told that they're rejecting our plan because it contradicts city hall's policy. The next day we erected our current protest tent, which draws people from all over the world."
Blaming the settlersThe local activist says Mayor Barkat adopted the plans of settlers who plan to take over the neighborhood.
"It's obviously a political story aimed at kicking us out of the eastern part of the city," Shaludi said. "Today, almost 300 settlers live in Silwan, and every time they come in and buy another part of the neighborhood in ways that are not kosher."
The issue of house demolitions in eastern Jerusalem was addressed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently. The demolitions are not helpful, Clinton said at the beginning of the month, adding that the US Administration is monitoring the issue vis-à-vis the Israeli government and Jerusalem city hall.